“There’s nothing like removing the vegetables for a truly gratifying kid-meal.” A Review of Cote, restaurant in Blackheath

20130222-194942.jpgReview of Cote, restaurant in Blackheath, SE3

This Review was first published in the February edition of The Greenwich Visitor

Is it true that I turned up to Cote in a Breton t-shirt and a beret?

I’m sorry, it is true. I really did. It wasn’t deliberate. If it had been deliberate I would have cycled there. With onions.

And I’ve never done it at Cafe Rouge.

I think.

Cote has one of those confused service restaurants where you get waiters queuing up for your table to serve you, and not noticing that you just asked the first waiter in the queue to leave you a bit more time to think. Maybe they thought I was French and deserved more service. (I’m sure there is a logic there somewhere.)

As is typical in restaurants which over-serve, they then deserted us when we put the menus down.

I ordered steak and chips. When I order steak and chips (with no spiel about the source of the cow) there is part of me that thinks, I won’t be able to blog about this place, then. Because there is not so very to say on the subject unless there is a mistranslation on how rare the streak should arrive. And even that’s not infrequent. (Note able evasion of pun).

(This is with the exception of steak and chips at Buenos Aires … With chimcurri sauce)

This was mostly true at Cote. But take a look at this, and tell me the first thing that comes to mind…

Steak and Chips and nothing else

Steak and Chips and nothing else

Yep, me too. Could they have served a little rocket with it? Or tomato? Or you know what, gone and pulled dandelion leaves out of the garden? Radishes? Plantain?

It was a lovely steak and chips, it really was. I couldn’t tell you why but the associated butter swam brilliantly on top and coated every chip that came near, but when you eat a lot of something lovely you kind of want something to cleanse the palate so that you an experience the lovely taste all over again. This felt like unremitting buttery beef chip mash eating exercise. Good buttery beef chip mash, but definitely unremitting.

Dessert was pleasant, although it felt a little ‘on the cheap,’ iced berries in white chocolate sauce. Iced meant frozen- but were sufficiently tart to offset the copious amounts of warm sweet white chocolate sauce. It was properly white chocolate sauce too- not just unfinished meringue.

Iced Berries- Cote's £10 menu

Iced Berries- Cote’s £10 menu

I should tell you that we were on the 2 courses for £10 menu here and there were some items on both the specials menu and the a la carte that looked extremely appetising.

I ordered a coffee noisette with dessert. Have you had one if these before? Apparently they are very French, and feature a lot of expresso, with a little single cream floating on top. This made for a nice twist on a machiato (if you ignore the failed promise of praline in the word ‘noisette’). It was way waaaay bitter coffee in the slightly addictive sense of the word.

Cafe Noissette

Cafe Noissette

As we left, we may have received enlightenment as to the target audience of the steak frites- as a seven year old was heard to exclaim in the face of it ‘that’s amazing,’

There’s nothing like removing the vegetables for a truly gratifying kid-meal.

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Rivington Bar&Grill, Greenwich

A Review of Rivington Bar & Grill

The problem with really fresh orange juice is that after decades of concentrate from the fridge, I am conditioned to enjoy it only cold. This is unfortunate, because the type of orange juice where a couple of oranges are tossed into a machine in front of your eyes is usually lukewarm and disappointing when it really shouldn’t have to be. I suppose it is a good thing that we weren’t conditioned to this flavour too. Although life in the 2000’s might have been cheaper.

Very pretty atmosphere - ordering at the Rivington Bar and Grill

Very pretty atmosphere – ordering at the Rivington Bar and Grill

I asked simply for an orange juice as I sat down at the Rivington Bar and Grill and it’s been a long time since such a casual request yielded the real thing. But they met the mark did the Rivington B$G they did, in all their toilet seat lukewarmedness.

The atmosphere was pleasant, all the ingredients for an elegant supper were there… And a few besides: A TV? Rowdy party of diners above? And children? (Ok I suppose children have to eat too) Except for the presence of the TV we could call this tolerance. I should buy some.

 

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And the ‘real thing’ just kept on coming to the table, as the bread course was proper sour dough, something I am a real fan of. Isn’t sour dough great?

As always the starter menu looked more appetising than the mains. We ordered egg Colcannon, despite my post-tzigano’s egg cynicism. I am a fan of modern twists on traditional food. This dish was a wise choice as the generous portion lived up in every way to how a modern interpretation of an old classic should do:. The recipe was going for mix of textures- the crunch of sparky high notes added by spring onions and chives, saturated in fresh yolk.

I was a bit disappointed with the definition of blackface haggis. Now I expected this to be black-face sheep (and later research has confirmed this to be true), however on questioning the waitress enliven this to mean it was ‘Scottish black pudding’. We gave her a cynical look. she didn’t budge. We looked at each other, and decided that despite our suspicions, the thought of a main course of pigs blood was too horrible to consider, even if it came with neeps and scallops. We opted instead for the whole sea bass.

We should have ordered one sea bass between two. Because a whole sea bass is no small fry. Instead we ordered one of each, and a side order of bubble and squeak and greens.

Sea  Bass at Rivington Bar and Grill

Sea Bass at Rivington Bar and Grill

Silence ensued as we forked out way through endless soft flakes of white fish flesh. Simple capers added a rewarding zing. Yes it was good and so were the sides- more of the traditional stars.

To my distress, we had to pull away from the dessert menu, as dessert had been arranged at a secret London Bridge location that let us down by being closed for refurbishment, but that’s another story…

Rivington Bar & Grill, 178 Greenwich High Road

Taking duck pancakes for granted. A Review of the Watermargin at the O2

A Review of the Watermargin at the O2, Greenwich.

This will be a photo less experience, so If your head starts to hurt from too many words without pictures to explain, please remember I am actually an artist and check out my paintings on alexpaintings.com

The reason this will be a photoless experience because I had no intention of reviewing The Watermargin. It was just a convenient location for a large group of friends to meet that would not discriminate on wallet/purse volume. And the O2 is kind of soulless. My blog is not supposed to be about soulless places.

It’s very good for both these things. Pay per person on entry and order from the bar… Absolutely no fights over splitting the bill versus leaving tips that make the waiters think they are super waiters.

However, the fact that we were at something more than a big white famous tent, hit me when I saw the garlic prawns. Up to this point I had taken for granted the duck pancakes, which is wrong of me i know. No one should take duck pancakes for granted, especially when one of your friends declares with delight. “This is the fullest of duck duck pancakes I have ever had.” shortly followed by a crunch. But I suppose that we had just assumed that duck pancakes would be part of the course.

Steamed pork dumplings were good too. I felt very noble picking these up. The. fact that I had one of those completely justified all of the deep fried stuff I had afterwords.

But back to the prawns: king prawns large, juicy and dripping in garlic oil. Seemed as fresh as they had come straight out of the Thames (the unpolluted salt water part – you don’t know that bit?) and worthy of any gourmet pub… Without a courgette or tomato swimming in it, to bulk it out in a “we both know that i am not a prawn, but hopefully you are talking to your friends too much to notice.” And available in any volumes that you choose to indulge in.

There is also a grill stir fry where they don’t appear to bat an eye if you approach with just about every combination of their good quality surf and turf available.

It hurts. You do know that the best way to enjoy ‘all you can eat’ is by picking an item per course and staying there? I always tell myself this. But faced with diversity of seafood, chicken and pork in every sauce going, makes this an impossible objective.

I would like to commend the Watermargin on the availability of vegetables. There were three dishes of Chinese prepared vegetables dressed chinesey. Pak choi and broccoli in chilli (they actually got me eating broccoli, can you believe that?)

Dessert will always be a thwarted objective at a Chinese meal.. Do you order dessert with a takeaway, or just crack open the Baileys? You’re too full, and what constitutes Chinese dessert anyway? Well, apparently the Water Margin authority states that it is miniature Swiss rolls, profiteroles, jelly, fresh fruit, jelly beans and ice cream. (Now given the pictorial approach of Chinese writings, I wonder what is Chinese for a Swiss roll, I imagine something that looks like a minature galaxy). I never got to eat most of these. I was waylaid by a caramelised banana fritter (see- it had banana in it) that was fabulous. So fabulous I waited ages before leaving in the hope that some room wold appear in my stomach to allow me to go back for more. No such hope, gaps in the stomach did not return until lunchtime the following day. Might go back next week.